The Day Low-Fat Died

low-fat-gravestone

After seven decades of bad nutritional advice, let a new era of balanced and healthy eating begin.

The year 2015 may someday be found on a historical timeline of dietary fads as the year Low-Fat finally died. Which particular day will be celebrated is, of course, up to Hallmark, who will promote cute traditional and e-cards with sayings like:

“Eat Fat to Get Slim.”

The actual day may have been when a carefully constructed comment, almost an aside in the 2015 USDA nutrition guidelines, removed the upper limit on dietary fat with the claim, “Reducing total fat (which really means replacing total fat with overall carbohydrates) does not lower cardiovascular disease risk,” adding that people should be “optimizing types of dietary fat and not reducing total fat.”

Or, the particular day could have been when that most mainstream of traditional medical journals, The Journal of the American Medical Association, printed a comment about the new recommendations as it “tacitly acknowledges the lack of convincing evidence to recommend low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets for the general public in the prevention or treatment of any major health outcome, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, or obesity.”

The JAMA article’s author, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition, wrote, “We really need to sing it from the rooftops that the low-fat diet concept is dead, there are no health benefits to it.”

Some of us have been singing this very song from those rooftops for quite some time, and have been considered nuts, fanatics or added to the official quack list. For instance, I’ve talked, written, pleaded and addressed the nutritional importance of dietary fats my entire adult life.

Natural fat newbies should be reminded that, scientifically, the essentiality of fat was discovered in 1929. (Nobody agrees on the exact birth date of Low-Fat, but it possibly had its beginnings in The Rice Diet founded in 1939 by Dr. Walter Kempner.)

How did Low-Fat die? Perhaps it was the yellow yolks, once thought to clog our arteries from merely thinking about them, that triggered the killing softly of low-fat. After decades of trashing eggs and cholesterol because of “conclusive studies” that showed eating them was harmful, in 2015 the U.S. government quietly said there is no evidence eating any amount of cholesterol is unhealthy. Now there’s egg on their faces.

Whatever day it was, suddenly the war on fat is over, and fat is now our official friend.

But now what? Now that fat is our friend, and we are equipped with the knowledge about bad fats — omega-6 oils and trans fat in particular — what do we do now? The answer is simple. People have to get fat phobia out of their minds, a change that’s difficult to make. The idea of a big beautiful glob of great tasting healthy sour cream on top of a bowl of chili, an extra couple of tablespoons of olive oil on a salad, or heavy cream, coconut oil and an egg yolk blended into your morning coffee may be intellectually OK, but for many the mind is just not willing to let go — there’s still that voice of the little misguided gremlin saying “once on the lips forever on the hips.”

One lingering problem regarding fat involves sugar. We can, in fact, put more stored fat on our body from eating even relatively small amounts of refined carbohydrates. This will also prevent body fat from being burned for energy, helping to maintain too much stored fat. With 75 percent of the world being overfat, this remains a huge health problem, not to mention a serious concern for our economy.

Another lingering problem is the misguided calories-in, calories-out idea still echoing in our minds. It’s a reflex for too many people who are trying to get rid of their excess body fat. This long-held notion should also be thrown out because it helps maintain fat phobia — people think of fat as a high-calorie macronutrient (which it is) rather than a source of high potential energy.

Of course, many of these problems remain in our culture because “diets” themselves are still popular. Books, magazine articles, internet buzz and other reminders about the latest fad diet won’t die too soon because there is so much money to be made in it.

Long ago I noticed that when people made the decision to eat better, reducing carbohydrate may have been difficult, but eating more fat was actually mentally tortuous for them because they had been conditioned to think of it as unhealthy. You can’t do one without the other. Think of a see-saw with protein in the middle, and carbohydrate and fat at either end. As we reduce carbohydrates we must increase fat.

This problem is a common one during the Two-Week Test. One of the main reasons some people don’t feel right is that carbohydrates are reduced and fat is not sufficiently increased. The lack of calories, especially in athletes, can be an obvious problem.

Low-Fat is dead. While we won’t mourn its passing, we can only hope it is replaced by sound and balanced style of eating that includes nourishing and metabolism-boosting dietary fats, unrefined natural carbohydrates, and healthy protein choices. Perhaps some day this will be on a timeline marking a new era of healthy eating.

Join the discussion 46 Comments

  • Christopher Claunch says:

    No Comments. No Comments? How can there be no comments. This is the best news since the advent of synthetic ketones. Thank you for the brilliant post on an update that was long over due. Here I sit typing away only after I flipped the Food Pyramid upside down and tossed every serving of carbohydrates out the window. Thank you.

  • Greg says:

    How long will it take to filter through to the dietitians, Doctors and the teaching facilities.? Probably not quick enough to make a difference to the current bulging waistlines. With Cholesterol taken off the “bad” list big Pharma may not be able to peddle as many meds

    • Greg:

      It’s hard to tell. But once the medical establishment accepts it (as it seems to have had), it’s just a matter of time.

    • CR says:

      Hear! Hear! As in, Please let everyone HEAR this! ( I say sipping on my heavy cream ladened coffee)

    • Jacks says:

      When vegans and vegetarians stop dominating the “healthy food” culture and let people eat animal fat and shun fructose (and other sugars… And starches… And lethal plant-sourced fats in processed foods…)

      • Stjepan says:

        Who is exactly stopping you at eating whatever you like, animal fats included? I am a vegetarian who eats as clean as possible most of the time, and tries to learn about the proper nutrition as much as I can as the years go by. Believe me, omnivores are a much more dominant group in the world (Western part of it, anyway).

  • Harmless says:

    Could you nuance the remark on bad fats? So what about saturated fats and transfer fats? Does the type of fat matter? Thanks.

  • Bob says:

    I agree in principle about this change in how we view fatty foods. However, before you take the plunge back into that world, you might want to explore the recent research and guidelines around inflammation as the root cause of many ills (especially cardiovascular) and make sure the fatty food (or sugar-laden food for that matter) that you’re about to consume is not on the list of inflammatory foods.

    For example, there is a direct correlation between inflammation in your body and heart disease, as indicated by the CRP (C-Reactive protein) level in your blood, which doctors are increasingly looking at as a more reliable indicator of heart disease risk than just cholesterol readings.

    So, I think that you might be better served if you approach your intake of fat with the inflammation aspect in mind as well.

  • Joanne McCormack says:

    Great article. I’m a family doctor in the UK fighting fat phobia every day. The message is slowly getting through ?#bringbackthefat

  • Jane says:

    This is how I have been eating since July when I needed to switch up my diet because of MS and with that I found a great ketone supplement along the way that helps me stay in ketosis and decreases my inflammation… I am in complete remission for the 1st time since being diagnosed and drugs had nothing to do with it.. living in a state of ketosis has 🙂 Great article I can’t wait for more people to realize what Sugar and Carbs do to one’s body especially diseases. It is all about educating people keep it coming I will continue to talk about it everyday until people start listening.

  • Kevin says:

    So any ideas on how to get this through to the schools? My kids school only offers nonfat chocolate milk and 1% white milk.

    I mentioned something casually to the (overweight) lunch lady a year or so ago and she looked at me like I was crazy.

    • Kevin:

      It will be very difficult, particularly since public schools are bureaucratic animals that are driven by very high-level policy decisions. You can convince all the cafeteria ladies in the country (and even all the district superintendents in the country) and you’d still have to change policies at the federal level before anything happens. I’d say that we need a fat-friendly surgeon general before anything real starts to happen.

  • Diane Butler says:

    I know this is slightly off topic but the statin drugs which are pushed big time by doctors as preventative measures from heart attack and strokes are killing people. They ruin our muscle mass. Make our limbs pain unbearably and make life miserable for those who think they MUST take them if your numbers are over 3 or 4. I won’t take them ever again. My quality of life has improved greatly when I quit taking statins. For the record I do not eat large amounts of fat but I do eat them my body and my brain work far better with the good fats and no statins.

  • ketorunner says:

    This is indeed good news. Although this is nothing new to most of us that read Phil’s newsletter, it is a significant step. Let’s see how long it takes for this to go mainstream. My thoughts are that it will still take a very long time. Fear of fats is deeply ingrained in most people’s mind. And no wonder, after all, it’s been bombarded into us for decades. The media has done such a good job of scaring people with the simplistic view that fats clog arteries, comparing the exquisite, complex human body with that of a kitchen drain. But we’re getting there, slowly.

    Thanks for the articles and great info.
    Ketorunner

  • Victor says:

    Phil, naturally you are right … BUT … in this particular article you are NOT COMPLETE. I know that your emphasis is that Fat is Officially Back! That’s fine. HOWEVER, you seem to brush aside the reality of the amount of calories in fats. Eat a ton of nuts, peanut butter, good oils, seeds, good grass-fed-animals’ fats, and other very healthy fats and soon you will weigh a ton. Keep in mind that we always tend to go to ‘the other extreme’. And here you may be unintentionally contributing to this trend. I completely disagree with your demonizing the ‘misguided calories-in, calories-out idea’. Tell me, eat 3,000 calories and burn 2,000, where does the difference go?

    The second point where I believe you are not complete is the fact that you seem to be demonizing carbs. We cannot live without carbs as much as we cannot live without fats. You need to emphasize, in this article, the wonders of fruits and vegetables, roots like beets, sweet potatoes, and carrots, and the many other wonderful carbs out there.

    Phil, I know you make two little comments about balance, at the beginning and at the end, but I believe you need to make it much clearer that all three macronutrients have EQUAL IMPORTANCE, but not in the same amounts. And you need to clarify too, that a gram, or an once for that matter, of fat has twice the amount of calories as carbs and proteins. Portion size in fats needs to be controlled extremely carefully. I saw someone pouring oil on his salad like if he was watering his vegetables garden. I tell you he poured more than 300 calories of oil on a 50 calories salad. Phil, many people, with all good intentions, do not understand this. The other guy emptied half his healthy Peanut Butter jar (no sugars or other additives) in a blink of an eye. And their size betrays them very quickly. Eating a healthy diet is one thing, eating many more calories than you burn, even if they are the most wonderful calories, is another thing.

    Thanks for you wonderful contribution to Healthy living. May more people listen to you.

    • Victor:

      Thanks for your comment.

      While I agree with you, let me point out that no doctoral dissertation, review article, academic journal, or even the Library of Congress database is complete.

      Again, I agree with you that eating a ton of good fats will make you weigh a ton, as well as with your point that if you create a surplus of calories (which is different than eating more calories than you burn—more on this later) you will gain weight. But I’m not sure what you’re responding to in the article. While guidelines on how to ingest fats are indeed absent from the article, that’s not what this article is about. I’m not sure why it needs to be.

      Again, I agree with your statement that we cannot live without carbs. But I don’t understand how Dr. Maffetone seems to be demonizing them. In essence, while I agree with all your points about the importance of macronutrients (and Phil would too) I’m not sure how those points relate to this article.

      For the majority of people (who have no genetic idiosyncrasies regarding fat metabolism) fat itself is an appetite-controller (while sugar is an appetite-unleasher). Ingesting fat releases a hormone that makes you feel more sated, which has the effect of reducing your appetite, and therefore the amount of calories you end up eating. While again, I agree that “portion sizes in fats have to be controlled extremely carefully,” most of our bodies are much better at controlling those portion sizes than we ever could.

      I think the most important point I can make is this: while portion sizes in fats have to be controlled extremely carefully to avoid weight gain in people with very specific metabolic and genetic idiosyncrasies, portion sizes in carbs (particularly sugars) have to be controlled extremely carefully to avoid weight gain PLUS metabolic syndrome in EVERYONE.

      A person who is overweight because they ate too much fats has a much healthier metabolism than a person who is overweight because they ate too much sugar. In terms of health, “overweight” means very little when one of those two people has higher-than-average fat mass while the other has higher-than-average fat mass plus metabolic syndrome. One of these two people will have a much more potent aerobic engine, and a much easier time losing fat mass if and when they get around to it.

      Which brings me to a final point: in a lot of people, the 1,000 extra calories they eat (3,000 in, 2,000 out) don’t constitute a surplus—they go into rebuilding muscle, bone, and other tissues, not increasing fat content.

  • Rob says:

    Fat phobia is a really big problem. I had it and it has taken me a very long time to get over it.

  • Odille Esmonde-Morgan says:

    If we’d listened to Dr Atkins it would have died back in 1969!

  • Stephen says:

    It is beyond me how the “low carb” community can continue to get away with the claim that “low fat” was ever truly recommended or attempted. Moreover, to continue to demonize “carbs,” “protein” or “fat” as reductionist components of whole foods is an unproductive misdirection, originally concocted by the meat, dairy and egg industries to cloak the cautionary recommendations issued by the USDA, e.q., instead of moderating meat, dairy or egg consumption, monitor “saturated fat” consumption. This original obfuscation, won through the influence of big food over the RDA, is what led to the national confusion over “fat.” Instead, we need to be focusing on whole foods, and specifically, the amazing benefits of whole plant foods over the endless public health problems caused by processed foods and animal based foods. The science is irrefutable, as demonstrated by some extremely well-documented books released in 2015 — books so well-documented that they are essentially anthologies of the extant peer reviewed science. I am referring to Dr. Michael Greger’s “How Not to Die” and Dr. Garth Davis’ “Proteinaholic.” Both authors are respected medical doctors. Dr. Davis is unique in that his practice focuses on obesity and weight loss surgery. I wish you all abundant health and well-being in 2016!

  • charles grashow says:

    A TRULY low fat diet was never embraced or implemented. Shame on those arguing dishonestly otherwise

    • Shame on them indeed. We’re not arguing that here. What Dr. Maffetone is reviewing—because the evidence abounds, and the arguments have already been made—is that policy and practice have been driven very powerfully towards low-fat diets in the past, by a variety of interested groups.

      Furthermore, what “low fat” refers to—which is what Dr. Maffetone is talking about—is the pervasive trend of consumer products where (1) the fat has been removed partially or completely and (2) replaced with simple sugars (3) in the name of fat loss. Whether or not this is “truly” low-fat is beside the point: the words “low fat” are transparently associated with this nutritional policy and practice initiative.

      • charles grashow says:

        The McGovern report recommended 30% fat – 10% MUFA, 10% PUFA, 10% SFA.

        “the words “low fat” are transparently associated with this nutritional policy and practice initiative” PLEASE

        • The McGovern report did indeed recommend that. However, it was never taken seriously, and received massive backlash from the industry. That backlash ended up creating the nutritional and food environment we see today.

          Could you please specify what you mean by “PLEASE”? If you have an argument against this, I’d love to hear it. “Low-Fat” is a cultural meme that is upheld and buttressed by the thousands of low-fat (added sugar) products available on shelves. These products became so widespread due to a variety of policies and initiatives.

          • Scott says:

            30% of calories from fat is not a ‘low fat diet’, though.

            Also, what does an athlete who uses sprints rather than LSD do, without eating carbohydrates?

            Are there any elite/World class athletes who eat a high fat/low carb diet?

          • No, it’s not: 30% fats is a very reasonable amount of fats. But as I said it wasn’t taken seriously. And it wasn’t taken seriously because the prevailing winds of policy and economic interests were blowing the way of “low-fat.”

            In fact, sprints/strength training are a necessary component of training, which is important for everyone to do. And you need your muscle glycogen stores to be reasonably full in order to do sprints. Nobody can do sprints without carbohydrates in the diet (indeed, a diet devoid of carbohydrates is an ill-advised proposition): you need a modicum of carbohydrates in your diet to be able to effectively replenish muscle glycogen stores.

            As regards your last question, I don’t know, save for a couple of Dr. Maffetone’s elite triathletes. I know that most elite marathoners these days eat a diet relatively laden with carbs (around 50-60%; no doubt some go far higher). Also the Tarahumara runners of northern Mexico have an overwhelmingly high-carb diet (I’d be comfortable in saying that it’s 90-95% carbs). Their diet is mostly low-glycemic carbs: corn and beans, particularly.

  • Sam says:

    Where does the star of 75% of the world being over fat come from? Seems highly I improbable.

    • Sam:

      I asked Dr. Maffetone and this is what he answered me:

      “These are estimates base on a number of sources. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prevalence of overweight and obese adults in US 2009-2010: 68.8%–it appears that number is still rising. I also include those who are “metabolically obese normal-weight individuals” (see Ruderman in Diabetes May 1998). In addition, my clinical observation (based on comparing scale and water weight) is that 15-20% of people who are not overweight (as per BMI) are still overfat. I believe my percentage of 75 is a conservative one.”

  • Lance says:

    I think it’s premature to declare low fat dead. Maffetone mentions Kempner, but not the beneficial results of his very low fat diet. Low fat diets have been shown repeatedly to have great therapeutic value by others such as Pritikin, McDougall, Ornish, and Esselstyn. All of those approaches are still in clinical use today. The original dietary guidelines were a compromise, lower than the standard diet, but not close to the level that research and experience showed was effective. Instead, fat consumption has increased in absolute (grams per day) terms since the 1970s.

    I love training with the MAF method, but the dietary discussion confuses me. Unfortunately, Ivan’s comments do not help. Criticizing a commenter’s “rhetorical path” instead of his worthwhile content is not helpful. The final comment leaves me even more confused. Do you mean the “low-fat” criticism only applies to food industry marketing and manipulation? If so, then I suppose my first paragraph is irrelevant, if Maffetone is not referring to established low fat diets, but business practices.

    • Lance:

      I completely agree with your initial paragraph. Low-fat diets have excellent therapeutic usages in certain situations. However, dietary guidelines, and the policy and law that stands under them, were influenced by a huge amount of lobbying from the usual suspects: they increased the sugar content of the supermajority of low-fat products, such that from a nutritional perspective, “low-fat” became synonymous with “added sugar.”

      Furthermore, “low-fat” is a still-widespread cultural meme: the average person hears about the benefits of low-fat diets (some of which have undeniable therapeutic value) and naively turns to seek low-fat products on the shelves. This is an advantageous symbiosis that I can assure you, was lost on none of the parties who saw “low-fat” as the opportunity to peddle their product: sugar. Furthermore, a variety of other interests quickly saw potential in this link, and built entire empires around particular low-fat products, and created diets to promote them.

      For example, a 3/4 cup of Kashi cereal has 11 grams of sugar (almost a tablespoon of sugar).

      To answer your question, the “low-fat” criticism doesn’t only apply to marketing and manipulation. (What it doesn’t apply to is to low-fat diets implemented responsibly on a case-by-case basis for therapeutic purposes.) But it certainly also applies to the entire cultural situation, where “low-fat” became nutritionally synonymous with “added sugar” and certain parties became poised to take advantage of the situation by proliferating diets that the average consumer could not distinguish from the therapeutic diets you mention.

      Upon rereading my answer to Stephen’s comment, I agree with you that it is unhelpful, and I am deleting it. My answer to Stephen was meant to be helpful, but it turned out to be disingenuous.

  • Victor says:

    “… I’m not sure what you’re responding to in the article.” First example, “The idea of a big beautiful glob of great tasting healthy sour cream …” The term ‘big’ can easily be misleading to many people, keeping in mind that just a 100 grams of this cream has almost 200 calories, see, http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/54/2. Same for the term ‘extra’ in, “an extra couple of tablespoons of olive oil on a salad”, when Phil knows very well that two table spoons of olive oil contain 240 calories (even though they are all good fat), again, see, http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/509/2.

    Next is the demonizing of carbs. Yes we know that refined carbs are not good. However, saying that, “We can, in fact, put more stored fat on our body from eating even relatively small amounts of refined carbohydrates”, is not right. Don’t tell me that eating an ice cream is going to kill you. Furthermore, eating these carbs after a workout, or with fats and proteins, and within a reasonable diet, they do not harm at all. I am particularly irritated by the term, “even relatively small amounts”. That is surely unnecessary and excessive.

    And to keep it short, the, “Another lingering problem is the misguided calories-in, calories-out idea still echoing in our minds.” Ivan, there is no way to go around this, and there is nothing ‘misguided’ here. Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about it, “Tipping the scale … Your weight is a balancing act, but the equation is simple: If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight”, see, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065. Here is another good article that addresses this issue, http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-eating/. We can both quote millions backing our positions but finally it just comes down to science and simple arithmetic. If a jar has a capacity of one liter you cannot put two liters in it. And the body’s energy’s overflow goes into the fat tissue and NOT “… into rebuilding muscle, bone, and other tissues, not increasing fat content.” I have no idea where you got that one from. My understanding is that it is the proteins that BUILD the muscles, etc. If you were right then we would have millions of monsters, colossuses, goliaths, and giants, rather than obese people.

    Phil, I really have a lot of respect for you, and I am not being sarcastic. But lets call a spade a spade and be clear about this one. You say it perfectly right when you say, “… we can only hope it is replaced by sound and balanced style of eating that includes nourishing and metabolism-boosting dietary fats, unrefined natural carbohydrates, and healthy protein choices.” I know you feel vindicated but please, why don’t you rewrite the article and make it reflect better your introduction and your conclusion?

    Once again, thanks a lot for your great work. You have given your life for the benefit of many. That’s wonderful, admirable, and commendable.

    • Victor:

      It’s fine if you disagree: it’s clear that you’re not being sarcastic. But I stand by my final paragraph.

      The body uses more than 1 calorie to rebuild itself for every calorie burned. While fats cannot be used to replenish muscle tissue, that’s a moot point: carbohydrates and fats aren’t just fuels—a lot of them go towards rebuilding the body (fat, for example, is in part used to form brain tissue, myelin, bile, bone marrow, and various cellular organelles—all of which are things that you use up to allow your body to exercise and to recover from it). Furthermore, the calories the body uses to rebuild itself are by nobody’s definition “calories burned.”

      (You said “Tell me, eat 3,000 calories and burn 2,000, where does the difference go?”) My answer: Often, into rebuilding the body.

      Not burning 1,000 calories is very different from not utilizing them. This is why, in my initial comment, I said that they often don’t constitute a surplus: if you burn 2,000 calories from exercise and the metabolic rate (which is typically what people measure) you still need a whole bunch more calories to go in, and those calories need to be from all 3 macronutrient groups.

      The reason I didn’t assume that you meant “calories utilized” when you wrote “calories burned” is that it’s a common issue with the “calories in, calories out” people that they assume that the body’s only use of carbohydrates and fat is for fuel, as well as to forget that the body needs calories to reconstruct itself: I often see people plan out their diet by only considering calories burned (basally and in exercise) and sometimes only during exercise. Unless you have a team of people observing your every move, it’s almost impossible to know how much of what kind of tissues you’re using up—and therefore exactly how much of each macronutrient you are supposed to ingest:

      Let’s suppose that the body burns through 600 fat calories and 600 glycogen calories—not uncommon for a 10 mile run. And let’s suppose that this 10 mile run breaks down the equivalent of 1,000 calories of muscle. In order to maintain a slightly heightened state of activity necessary to rebuild, let’s say that the metabolism burns an extra 400 calories above resting (supposing that the basal metabolic rate burns 1,000 calories in a day, 800 of which are from fats).

      If you’re highly fat-adapted, and you’re burning 300 of the 400 “rebuilding” calories from fats, you could potentially be utilzing 1,800 fat calories a day. Furthermore, if you’re highly fat adapted, your liver also has the option for replenishing your muscle glycogen via gluconeogenesis—a.k.a. the liver turning fats into sugars. So, supposing that 300 glycogen calories are made from fats, you’re now up to 2,100 fat calories consumed that day.

      If you re-built your muscles with those 1,000 protein calories, and you ingest 400 carb calories (to replenish 100 of the “rebuilding” calories and the remaining 300 burned glycogen calories) you’re up to 3,500 calories a day. While you’d be quite correct in pointing out that there’s no overflow, a lot of these fat calories weren’t “burned”—they went into providing for the body’s upkeep in various ways (when it could have been just as easily carb calories that were burned).

      In either case, if you don’t know exactly how many calories you’re utilizing for fuel, upkeep, reconstruction, etc., you’re better off running a surplus of fat calories than of sugar calories: As you mentioned, calorie surplus will go into the fatty tissue. But calorie surplus is controlled by the very hormone that becomes released when you eat fats (leptin, producing the feeling of satiety). So, in the vast majority of cases, any calorie surplus you run will be autonomically regulated by eating less later on when the initial surplus is a fat surplus, but not when it is a sugar surplus.

      This is why saying “calories in, calories out” has to be tempered and expounded upon every time: the association between “low fat” and “losing weight” is so strong that a lot of people will still gravitate towards low-fat—and fail at their goals time and again. I believe it is “misguided” because (1) it alone doesn’t acknowledge this, and (2) it’s usually brought up when people make the LCHF argument.

      On a final note, I’m a little put off by this paragraph:

      Next is the demonizing of carbs. Yes we know that refined carbs are not good. However, saying that, “We can, in fact, put more stored fat on our body from eating even relatively small amounts of refined carbohydrates”, is not right. Don’t tell me that eating an ice cream is going to kill you.

      Saying that “more stored fat goes on our body from even a relatively small amount of refined carbs” is a FAR CRY from “eating an ice cream will kill you.” This really isn’t the argument that Phil is making, and I’m not sure why you’re seeing it that way.

  • Ken says:

    I believe it is very misleading to state ‘low fat’ diets are dead… And to state” the lack of convincing evidence to recommend low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets for the general public in the prevention or treatment of any major health outcome, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, or obesity.”
    This is a tricky statement whereby it assumes a “high carb” diet is an alternative to a low fat diet… My concern on this misleading key point is that a whole food, plant based diet will have ‘high carbs’. (Also have more fiber and antioxidants and other micro nutrients recently discovered to be of benefit under current medical research). I am confused why there is little or no reference to the amazing benefits of a plant based diet. (I’ll leave that point alone).
    My main point is that there certainly is mountains of medical research and evidence on how a low fat, or no fat, diet, can cure and prevent diseases.
    You mention some of the leading Medical doctors who have provided ‘medical evidence’ to this fact…
    Sorry, but I advise everyone to run from this kind of article and to go to professionals who provide medical research facts (i.e. Dr Gregor) vs making statements that will cause consumers to say ‘ I read it is now OK to eat more fats and not be as concerned on a low fat diet”… Heart Disease is the number one killing disease in this country and this article certainly will provide more reasons for consumers to eat more fats which will continue that trend….

    • Victor says:

      Ivan, in my opinion there are two key issues in this discussions.

      1. We need to avoid comparing apples to oranges. Good fats are compared to good carbs while bad fats are compared to bad carbs, the former being mostly whole and natural foods while the latter being the processed ones. I believe that once one eats well, whether good fats or good carbs, one can live a relatively healthy life.

      Ivan, in this respect your statements, “A person who is overweight because they ate too much fats has a much healthier metabolism than a person who is overweight because they ate too much sugar”, and, “you’re better off running a surplus of fat calories than of sugar calories”, you are comparing fats with sugars. How about someone eating all the bad fats, would he still have the ‘healthier metabolism’? And one who is overweight because she ate all the healthy carbs and not the sugars, or the heavily processed carbs (or fats for that matter)?

      2. The second point is about quantity. The discussion about ‘calories in and out’ can be confusing if we are not careful about the terms. Yes, you might be right to say that fats have other uses other than for energy, and my intention, and that of those who believe in counting calories, we have in mind the surplus rather than where the calories go. Yes kids are growing and a lot of the calories stay in the body helping them growing up, but above that they are growing wide and obesity in children is also becoming an epidemic. Our understanding is what you rightly call, ‘surplus’.

      So, any surplus, whether from fats, carbs, or proteins for that matter, is converted into fats and stored. Yes bad fats and bad carbs are stored as fat much faster and do other very serious damage, but EVEN the surplus from GOOD fats and carbs makes you fat. This is what I have in mind.

      One final important point is about satiety. The Mediterranean diet when I was a kid consisted mostly of pasta, bread, and potatoes. People were healthy, strong, and very fit, doing a lot of hard physical work. Yes these three carbs are very satiating and not just fats. And yes, in those days all these foods were much more nutritious than today. But the point is that all three macronutrients CAN be satiating and there is nothing special in fats in this matter.

      Ivan, thinking about it, what bothers me is people taking one-sided approach to diet. Everything has its right place and people who eat the right food for them and in the right quantity should be very fit and healthy. Low Carbs and Low Fats are two ends of the spectrum. I believe that a well balanced diet is what we should be talking about rather than low this and low that, again, as Phil puts it perfectly well (in my opinion) in the conclusion of this article, thus, “… we can only hope it is replaced by sound and balanced style of eating that includes nourishing and metabolism-boosting dietary fats, unrefined natural carbohydrates, and healthy protein choices. Perhaps some day this will be on a timeline marking a new era of healthy eating.”

      • Victor:

        I can’t spare too much time to answer you so I’ll be brief.

        1. Why should we not compare apples to oranges? Fats and carbs have different functions within the body. If they had the same function, then it makes sense to only compare good fats to bad fats, and good carbs to bad carbs. The reason you can compare fats to carbs (and researchers everywhere do) is because, they do different things, and they have different effects. For example, your chances of exhibiting lactate acidosis are very small on a LCHF diet (which is why LCHF diets are often used to treat acidosis and to create a higher alkalinity in the body as a mitigating factor for diseases such as cancer). So, for health reasons, it makes complete sense to both metaphorically and literally compare apples to oranges.

        2. I agree with you about surplus, but it isn’t fat surplus in the diet that has risen in near-perfect correlation with the rise of obesity.

        3. All three macronutrients can be satisfying, as you mention, but they are not equal. You only get leptin—which is the hormone that controls ghrelin (which creates the impulse to eat)—when there’s fats. Ghrelin stops being released when you get full, but fat’s release of leptin is something that neither proteins nor carbs do. (Unless you want to argue that carbohydrates and proteins do indeed release leptin.)

        Why can’t we talk about a balanced, whole-foods diet in addition to talking about energy metabolism and fuel preferences?

        • Victor says:

          1. Ivan you missed the point here. The correct comparisons need to be,

          Fats to Carbohydrates

          Good Fats to Good Carbohydrates : e.g., eggs to sweet potatoes

          Bad Fats to Bad Carbohydrates : e.g., partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to high fructose corn syrup

          In your case you compare Fats to Sugars. That is Apples to Oranges. Let me show the quotes again and include the correct comparisons in square brackets (and then you see that your arguments do not follow).
          “A person who is overweight because they ate too much fats [TRANS FATS] has a much healthier metabolism than a person who is overweight because they ate too much sugar”, and, “you’re better off running a surplus of fat [TRANS FATS] calories than of sugar calories”, see http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/trans-fat/art-20046114. Here you are comparing Apples to Oranges, and it is not correct. Comparing TRANS FATS to SUGAR is comparing Apples to Apples, and most often you find both of them in the same highly processed products.

          2. The correlation is not the issue. The issue is eating too much of anything, and I insisted on this point because I believe that Phil’s article (and especially some phrases that I specifically pointed out) can be misunderstood by people and taken as ‘a license to eat fats in abundance’. Then we will have another group of obese people correlated to rise in eating fats.

          3. Here we are talking about satiety. But there are two issues involved,
          a) Leptin is not the only factor in this equation. Good pasta, bread and potatoes, same as greens and vegetable, are very filling and can keep you full for a very long time. We can say the same about a good healthy steak. All three macronutrients have their filling foods. Here is a diametrically opposite position to yours, “While protein seems to stave off hunger for longer than carbohydrate, fat exerts the weakest effects on both satiation and satiety. This probably accounts for the capacity of a high fat diet to lead to passive over-eating, often resulting in weight gain.”, see, http://www.eufic.org/article/en/artid/what-makes-us-feel-full/.
          b) Secondly, people do not eat only because they are hungry. We eat also because we have APPETITE. Why do you see people, after a filling lunch or dinner, sitting in front of the TV eating potato chips, cookies, popcorn and drinking beer and sodas? Why do our mouths salivate when we see our beloved chocolate? Why do we get tempted when we pass in front of a pizzeria? Why do I, after a good fulfilling meal, if I stay in the kitchen environs keep nibbling on almonds, walnuts, raw honey, bananas, papaya, gorgonzola cheese, Brazilian nuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and any other healthy food you find in my kitchen? Before I know it I would have downed some 300 extra calories. And even if I had eaten a fat-laden meal it seems that Mr. Leptin hides in some dark corner of my brain.

          As for the final point, “Why can’t we talk about a balanced, whole-foods diet in addition to talking about energy metabolism and fuel preferences?”, because it confuses the issues. There is a general consensus that “a balanced, whole-foods diet” contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Its contrary, though it might be appetizing, we know that it is not sustainable and it leads to many maladies and problems.

          As for Fats and Carbs, on the other hand, the issue is secondary/minor when compared to “a balanced, whole-foods diet.” And very unfortunately, it often leads to a lot of divisions, people taking sides, and even to extreme positions. Human nature has adapted to individual’s character, traditions, geography, availability of food, etc. People live on the carb-loaded fruits of the tropical jungles and on fatty fish and animals in the freezing weather near the Poles.

          I hope these comments further enlighten this very important discussion.

          [Ivan, this discussion is split in three different places. Can you please put them together under one continuous link as otherwise it loses a lot of its value. Thank you.]

          • Victor:

            Thanks for commenting and adding to the discussion. I’d love to continue our conversation but I can’t devote any more time to it.

          • Victor says:

            Ivan, I think you and me are seeing this issue from two different lenses, or perspectives, if you like. Let me summarize my points since the discussion went in different ways. Here is what I want to say about Phil’s article.

            1. The article’s introduction and conclusion are commendable, “… let a new era of balanced and healthy eating begin”, and, “… we can only hope it is replaced by sound and balanced style of eating that includes nourishing and metabolism-boosting dietary fats, unrefined natural carbohydrates, and healthy protein choices.”

            So, Phil, like all people of goodwill, is all out for a balanced, whole-foods diet that should contribute to a healthy lifestyle. This point is dealing with the QUALITY of food. All the three macronutrients are necessary in some appropriate proportions, which might vary from person to person. However, the sentence, “We can, in fact, put more stored fat on our body from eating even relatively small amounts of refined carbohydrates”, can be misleading, in my opinion, and subtly it gives the impression that carbohydrates are bad (especially in light of the terms used for fats, referred to below).

            2. A second, very important, element of eating is the QUANTITY. People don’t get overweight because they eat the wrong foods (they get sick by that) BUT because we eat too much. There are a few expressions in the article that, in my opinion, can be misleading and taken to some sort of extremes with potentially some very serious consequences. Specifically I refer to,
            a) ‘big’, in, “big beautiful glob of great tasting healthy sour cream”
            b) ‘extra couple’, in, “an extra couple of tablespoons of olive oil”
            c) ‘misguided’, in, “Another lingering problem is the misguided calories-in, calories-out idea still echoing in our minds.”

            Ivan I hope I have amplified my opinion about these issues enough in the above discussions. I would, however, like to reiterate my respect for Phil and his opinions.

            Phil, you are a great man, has done a lot of good, and please keep doing what you are wonderful at, promoting wellness, by eating well and by exercising properly. Let us hope that the ‘new era’ will last forever and ever. Amen.

        • Scott says:

          I agree with a lot of what you say but disagree that excess bad carb calories are more likely to be strored as fat than excess fat calories. Converting carbs to fat, to be stored, is a process which needs to take place. Whereas fat can be stored as it it, with little metabolic ‘effort’ involved.

  • Mike says:

    Victor, with all due respect, when where you a kid, Italian is not Mediterranean! I come from the Greek island of Ikaria. We do not eat pasta, we do eat a lot of fats – olive oil, cheese, yogurt, etc, as well as fruits, green veggies, and beans. We have one of the lowest incidence of heart disease, and cancer. Please explain your statement ” when I was a kid the Mediterranean diet consisted of pasta, bead and potatoes. I’m very confused how you equate Italian cuisine to the Mediterranean diet. I do believe most people who refer to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are actually referring to the diet of people native to the Greek isles.

    • Victor says:

      Thanks Mike for your interest in this discussion. Naturally I do appreciate your personal experience of the Mediterranean Diet. And also, I am very much aware of the variations in the eating habits within a geography that is pretty much widely spread out. So I went to a Greek website that discusses the Mediterranean Diet at, http://www.greekmedicine.net/therapies/The_Mediterranean_Diet.html which also leads to Old Ways that also highly promotes the Mediterranean Diet, and here is the link to their discussion of the Pyramid, http://oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-pyramid/overview

      As you see, EXERCISE is the foundation of the pyramid, but then the base is “An abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, breads and grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.” So, that’s where the ‘pasta, bread, and potatoes’ come from. And please note that cheese and yogurt are much higher on the pyramid. But yes we had a lot of olive oil and cheese and eggs too.

      Mike my point to Ivan was this, ‘The Mediterranean Diet does not depend on Fats for satiation, but on Carbohydrates”. Mike, please understand me well. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST FATS. I am against the idea that CARBS ARE BAD.

      Finally, I do not know how you made me an Italian, which I am not. Mike, no one can be more Mediterranean than me, and I am neither Greek, nor Italian, and nor the Spanish, for that matter. Once again, thanks for your interest in the subject of Healthy Eating which is one of the most important factors in our lives.

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